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“Please Proceed, Majority Leader”: Their “Three Nos” Strategy Has Telegraphed Their Weak Point For All To See

Only an hour after Antonin Scalia’s death had been confirmed, Sen. Majority Leader McConnell announced that there would be no vote on a nominee from President Obama to replace him. Earlier this week, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that there would be no confirmation hearings on the nominee. Then yesterday, Republican Senators began announcing that they would not even meet with the nominee. All of this is happening before the President has even announced his choice.

You might be tempted to ask, “what is the strategy behind the Republican’s decision to become the party of no, no and no?” Republican strategist Rory Cooper explained that the goal is to pretend that “we have already reached the conclusion of the debate.” He suggests that to argue the credentials of the nominee would be “to give up a critical piece of leverage in how this is portrayed in the media.” Republicans must keep it “a debate over a process, not a person” and the “story must be starved of oxygen.”

To perhaps test that resolve, an anonymous source told the Washington Post yesterday that Republican Governor Brian Sandoval was being considered. A spokesman for McConnell reacted immediately.

And freshman Senator Deb Fischer demonstrated that she had gotten the memo.

Does anyone else think that all of this reeks of desperation? Josh Marshall sure does.

I think they protest way, way too much about the brittleness of their position and the potential electoral fallout. The emphaticness of the “three nos” isn’t really necessary to convince anyone at this point. It’s to make the point so ferociously, totally, almost maniacally that they can actually end the debate now. But I doubt they actually can.

When it comes to power, Senate Republicans maintain the ability to block any potential nominee President Obama puts forward. But their “three nos” strategy has telegraphed their weak point for all to see…the very real possibility of an extremely qualified nominee. That plays right into the hands of President Obama’s most likely strategy – to pragmatically chose the most qualified person. As Marshall says, from there – the job of the Democrats is pretty easy.

So let’s start with this. Republican senators won’t meet with the nominee. We get it. But I’m pretty sure Democratic senators will meet with him or her and make quite a show of it. I’m also fairly sure the White House will keep trying to set up meetings with Republican Senators and make a show of the on-going refusals. Senate challengers will press it in their campaigns too. And I have little doubt the White House will be sure to arrange meetings with the couple Republican senators who’ve so far bucked the unified front.

The Republicans are placing all their bets on their ability to shut down media discussion of the nominee once their name is announced. Given the importance of this issue, that is a tall order – even for them. But because their base has communicated that nothing – not even control of the Senate – is as important as obstructing this nomination process, its probably the only play they have.

Recently Alec MacGillis wrote a brief profile of Mitch McConnell and why he has chosen this fight. In the end, it’s clear that he didn’t…the fight chose him. This description pretty much encapsulates what the Majority Leader is all about.

The best way to understand Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. has been to recognize that he is not a conservative ideologue, but rather the epitome of the permanent campaign of Washington: What matters most isn’t so much what you do in office, but if you can win again.

In other words, as Majority Leader, McConnell is in the position of having to draw a line in the sand about conservative influence on the Supreme Court. To do so, the only play he has is the one that puts winning the Senate again in jeopardy. As the President might say, “Please proceed, Majority Leader.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 25, 2016

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Republican Obstructionalism, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Flirting With Catastrope”: Nebraska GOP Senate Candidate, “Destroy The Constitution Or I’ll Destroy The Economy”

Yesterday, Nebraska GOP primary voters nominated dark horse candidate and state Sen. Deb Fischer as their candidate for an open U.S. Senate race this November. In choosing Fischer, the Nebraska GOP aligns itself with a candidate who recently called for a very high stakes game of chicken — flirting with economic catastrophe in order to force Congress to permanently enshrine Tea Party fiscal policy into the Constitution.

During last year’s debt ceiling crisis, which Speaker John Boehner has threatened to repeat next year, House and Senate Republicans threatened to force the United States to default on its debt — an outcome that would have caused “a bigger GDP drop than that experienced during the Great Recession of 2008″ — unless President Obama agreed to an increasingly escalating series of demands for austerity. Even after this campaign of extortion forced the White House to make significant concessions, Fischer indicated that she would have simply let the economy blow up because Congress didn’t also agree to a constitutional amendment:

Nebraska’s 2012 Republican Senate candidates turned thumbs down Monday on the compromise debt reduction plan agreed to by the White House and congressional leaders.

I would vote no on this specific bill because Congress needs to pass a balanced budget (constitutional) amendment first,” said state Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine.

It’s not clear which version of the balanced budget amendment Fischer is referring to here, but even the mildest forms of such an amendment are terrible ideas because they prevent the United States from responding to economic downturns or unexpected disasters, while simultaneously turning control of the nation’s budget over to unelected judges who are ill-equipped to handle it.

Moreover, at the time that Fischer endorsed blowing up the economy unless Congress votes to change the Constitution, the leading Republican proposal for such an amendment imposed such draconian spending cuts that it would “throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.” The lead sponsor of this plan to trigger a new Great Depression, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), also called for forcing a debt default unless Congress gives him everything he wants.

In other words, while little is known about the obscure state lawmaker who wants to join the United States Senate, her willingness to play chicken with America’s prosperity strongly suggests that she would line up with the most hardline members of the Republican caucus.

 

By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, May 16, 2012

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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